Does breastfeeding help you lose weight? Read on to find out.

The question:
Will breastfeeding really help me to lose weight?

The Lactation Consultant Answers:

The short answer is -- yes! Studies have shown that over the long haul (6 months), breastfeeding mothers lose more weight and reach their prepregnancy weight sooner than their bottle feeding friends. Obviously there are healthy things you can do to help the weight come off, such as exercising, eating a healthy well-balanced diet, and minimizing your intake of Halloween candy...

Mothers often wonder how many more calories they need to consume while they are breastfeeding. The good news is that it isn't as much as previously thought. Most mothers do just fine if they eat when they are hungry and drink when they are thirsty. At the most, a mother might want to increase her caloric intake by 200 to 300 per day, which is about the amount you would get in a couple tablespoons of peanut butter. There is no need to increase your caloric intake as your baby grows. Interestingly enough, the composition of the milk changes as the baby grows, and the baby's energy requirements decrease, so that volume-wise, the amount of your milk doesn't change appreciably even though your baby jumps from 9 pounds at one month of age to 15 pounds at 4 months.

There are no special foods you have to eat while you are nursing, (nope, not even milk) just as there is no list of foods to avoid. Some moms have found that having a bowl of hot oatmeal in the mornings (the real stuff -- not the instant goop in packages) helps increase milk supply somewhat. And au contraire to popular opinion, there is no necessity to decrease your intake of spicy or garlicky foods. And if you don't like milk, you don't need to drink it just because you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You can get your calcium through other sources, even supplements if needed, if you don't care for any dairy products such as cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and so on.

Otherwise, just enjoy your meals and your baby!

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